The Aisle You Don’t Go Down in the Grocery Store
One thing I have learned from living in the US for many years was that you didn’t ever take your kids down the aisle in the Grocery Store called the Cereal Aisle.
You know, that wonderful aisle loaded with all those colorful boxes of sugar sweetened breakfast cereals just brimming with tooth decay, disguised with tempting names like Diabetes Crisp or Future Third Mortgage Dental Work Crunch. The ones that will certainly have your kids bouncing off the walls within 30 seconds of filling their bloated selves with their lovely products.
The manufacturers have a knack for creating just the perfect logos of happy cartoon characters made to induce your little tykes into screaming “Mommy, Daddy..! Look, I have to have Spongeblop Stupidpants Cereal NOW!”
As you may expect, such a tyrannical rant may make you cringe even getting near the aisle, much less with your prized future Nobel Prize winning angels in your shopping cart that were happily along for the ride just moments before. Your charming little genetic misfits are now acting like they need an emergency exorcism. Why don’t they have roaming priests in the store when you need one? Exorcism in Aisle Six please?
Yes, bad memories and something to stay far away from. It all makes you want to take a quick dash to the San Miguel Display as quickly as possible…
Recently, I read in the forum that Bob pointed out that you can find most anything you need in the Philippines. Pumpkin Pie Filling, and wonderful turkeys just as juicy as can be, etc.
For I can honestly state most of this is true.
I mean some of the Revenues for local supermarket chains are such that they have a hard time stocking things, capital being so hard to come by:
SM Investments – 24.7B PhP Net Income
Rustans – 3.8M USD Revenue, 140M Net Income
Shopwise – 1.64B PhP in Assets
PureGold – 39B Revenue
My observations are the most sought after items are generally right under our noses, however the questions are these:
- Why oh why, in so many visits to so many supermarkets spread across the country, do they overstock on some items, making the things you may REALLY want so hard to find? Do they intentionally hide the good stuff to get you to make you aimlessly circle aisles and shelves, looking in every nook and cranny, hoping you will impulse purchase their other items?
- Who determined the quantities of something they need to stock in a supermarket? Was it based by the hunger pangs of the purchaser in the central office? Perhaps it is the limited culinary vocabulary of the guys in the corporate office.
- After all, there are things people need and want, not just a few items, otherwise why not call it the Sari Sari Superstore, eh?
So let me give you just a few examples. Now I am talking Metro Manila, and Tagaytay, so those of you from out in Sorsigon, Masbate, etc., don’t suddenly grab your machetes and run off to the blog in a heated rush ready to besmirch me as fast as you may be thinking.
And oh, by the way, don’t let your wife and kids go down the Corned Beef Aisle, read on…
I decided to summarize my muses into a simple letter that you fill in the blanks can print out and use for yourself and drop off at your next visit to the supermarket.
The (You Insert Your Favorite Chain Here) Grocery Stores, Inc.
I am a long time shopper of your store, and generally love the products. In fact I shop here (X) times per week for my family of (X)
(For Provincial Customers, edit as appropriate) It can be challenging crossing raging rivers, riding a carabao for endless kilometers, riding numerous trikes through clogged streets in numerous Puroks, jeepneys across Barangays, busses down potholed roads, banka boats over swollen rivers, paying excessive liberation taxes to MNLF freedom fighters and hacking my way through the deepest darkest jungles to finally crawl up to the doors of your store. Staying within budget after such long journeys is taxing to my wallet.
I do so because I am loyal to your corporate brand (this warms them right in the cockles of their little capitalist hearts, trust me) and want you to provide the pinnacle of products and services to your customers.
During my leisurely visits to your store, while sipping my Starbucks coffee and enjoying the festive atmosphere of your environment I found the following areas that perhaps I can point out to your corporate team for future innovation.
We actually know what your store is. After trudging our way out of the jungle to arrive prostate at the door of your Mecca of merchandising, do you have to play blaring jingles from radio commercials endlessly over your undersized PA system in the store reminding us of your delights if you visit your location? Aren’t we already there or is this one of those new “virtual worlds” like SimCity?
Can I get a new hearing aid after I ripped mine out and tossed it across the endless aisles of enchantment in your abode from listening to the high pitched shriek of your announcers?
While I am sure that out of the tens of thousands of loyal customers that visit the merchandising mavens you are find products, the ones that some of us search for seems to be lacking. Capital being so hard to come by, and Revenues being so scarce, it must be hard to fund your floor stock.
For example, do you really need to place Mayonnaise next to Peanut Butter in Stores?
Why is it that you decide Canned Butter is in such hot demand, though I see the same dusty cans in your store with no movement. Is the expiration date determined by the Chinese Calendar instead of the Roman one? Can the Hubble Space Telescope see an expiration date that far in the future?
Who decided to stock 2 varieties of Paper Towels? I know deforestation is rampant in the Philippines, but why are there 20 varieties of facial tissue but 2 varieties of Paper Towels in stock?
On the subject of limited water use, does an Environmentally Friendly Store such as yours actually need to stock 400 different Women’s Shampoos in the Anti Baho aisle? Perhaps waterless shampoo could educate women and the country on squandering water? And while you are at it, can you sit the Tabo next to the Shampoo? As the educated consumer can tell you, they go hand in hand.
Must there be 70 meters devoted to merchandising cookies and crackers but barely 10 CM for Tostidos Cheese Sauce, Hot Wing Sauce and Blue Cheese Dressing? And why are they in 3 separate areas of the store and constantly out? Couldn’t there be a fair product mix in your shopping cavalcade? I know Marshmallow Fluff is a sizzling seller, but could you find it in your hearts to provide items people might actually buy?
Filipinos do like a good plate of Nachos, and while you are at it, can you throw in some Dave’s Insanity Gourmet Habanero Sauce to liven up our palates instead of 20 brands of Korean Sauces and Cup Noodles I never see anyone purchase?
I’m sure Brazilian and Argentine Beef are hot sellers in your frozen case but couldn’t you squeeze in some good Tequila from Mexico instead of your Liver Killer Mojitos you seem to favor so much on the shelf?
If you constantly run out of something, perhaps that is a subtle signal you might want to order twice as much next time? Perhaps all your rocket scientists in logistics management are being ferreted off by NASA recruiters. I know of several headhunting firms that can help you in this regard. This may be a subtle hint of items that people could use. While that canned French Pate may be flying off the shelf, perhaps a little more selection in cheese could be in order, or even buttermilk for me to make biscuits?
Next to the expensive imported pancake mix from the US, could you provide the expensive imported pancake syrup too? We hate eating our pancakes dry, of course we can always go your imported water section and buy some of that expensive Evian to quench our thirst I guess.
Your shoppers must be lined up for those Turbo Mops I see in large stacks. Perhaps mop buckets with wringers would be in order?
I love eating chicken, but when I bite into a leg and there’s nothing left after that bite, perhaps they are a bit small and I was short changed in the process. My family of fifteen needs 17 chickens to have a decent adobo dinner as a result. I can get larger roasters at my wet market, but they never seem to make it to your stores. Did the wet market hijackers steal your supply en route?
Bread does come in colors and textures other than white.
When Chili Sauce is ordered, the ratio for shelf stocking is 90 percent NO BEANS, and 10 Percent WITH BEANS. Not the other way around.
In one of your stores, no less than eight varieties of Refried Beans were in stock totaling more than 300 units on the shelf. Are there a high amount of Mexicans as consumers in your environs? Army/Navy sells a copious quantity of burritos and tacos, could you provide a couple enchiladas and masa mix in your stores, the fresh mex customers might want to make a few. We notice you have stocked the enchilada sauce but it makes it a bit hard to make a tostada without the masa meal.
Plastic toothpick resources must be delayed by that Turbo Mop production, eh? Please stock more than 2 packs at any given time.
There must be an ongoing corned beef shortage, for are you stocking up for the worst? Surely the display of 20 meters of 100 gram cans, pilled 30 deep is not adequate to feed our community. What if famine suddenly strikes? Only 2 kinds of Liver Spread was on hand during my shopping sojourn, but you certainly were musing about the high protein that Corned Beef could provide a suddenly demoralized and de-capitalized population in the event of an emergency. An example is provided of the corned beef aisle to refresh your memory.
Given that you often charge for parking in your parking lots, could you take a portion of that cash derived from the hundreds of cars that arrive per day to build MORE parking? And while you are at it could you make a space that will fit a vehicle larger than a Chery QQ?
A portion of your proceeds could fund a national escalator repair academy in order to provide disadvantaged youth jobs in the growth sector of escalator repair, a prized skill that could result in immediate employment in your locations. In fact, you could extend escalators and moving walkways all the way to the curb for customers using jeepney and trike services.
While we are on the subject of national employment, could we have all checkout aisles with cashiers and baggers at all times? Judging from your profits, a little expenditure on hiring some help so we don’t stand in line or wait for a bagger could be useful. You can check out more people, which means more people can shop per hour and your profits can be multiplied by the increased shoppers. It’s the “Not Leave My Cart in the Aisle and Run Out the Door” Effect.
Install change sorter thingies so shoppers can drop a pile of 10, 25 and 1 peso coins they use for paying for purchases into a bin and it counts it lickety split instead of them endlessly counting them one at a time at the checkout counter. It goes into a sack and then maybe we wont get them counted back to us in 10 peso increments when we get change back, you can get rolled 10 peso coins for use!
Since numerous BPOs operate at night in Manila and their employees are ready willing and able to vault from their jobs at the earliest opportunity, why not employ them as restock staff and shelf counters in your stores?
You could free your hardest workers from having to do day work clogging up aisles and having lengthy chiz conversations in front of the choicest items in the store and it would spread hope to those on night shift to be promoted to bagger or customer service expert in the day shift.
Eliminate the hassle of finding those pesky frequent shopper cards by offering discounts as follows:
Balikbayan Box Size of Order – 10%
Jeepney Size Order – 20%
Banka Boat Size Order – Hell Give it Away! No one will ever have the cash to do that anyway
Looking forward to your prompt response, your loyal and dedicated consumer,
(Sign and enter your name here along with contact details)